think of arden of feversham as the Renaissance version of the National Enquirer, played out on the stage.
The anonymous script -- the first in which common people rather than noble or mythological characters were stage centre -- focuses on a real-life crime of passion in which a wife and her lover conspire to kill her husband, the title figure.Since the pair and their accomplices are captured and executed, the work becomes a tragedy with a moral finale. But with multiple botched murder attempts, it's also full of potential comedy.
Director Daniel Levinson plays up the humour, but sometimes takes it too far in the direction of the Three Stooges, with Glenn Walsh and Leo Wigglesworth as the underlings and Kevin Hammond as their Moe-like leader.
Too bad Levinson didn't cut some of these episodes, since the action in this largely student-based production could use brisker pacing.
Scott Moore's Arden is stiff and mostly one-dimensional -- blame the script, in part -- while Todd Campbell as his foppish, lower-class rival Mosby offers more depth, notably in his exchanges, alternately loving and recriminatory, with Arden's wife, Alice (Laryssa Yanchak).
Yanchak creates the production's most rounded character, balancing comedy, sensuality, manipulation and the last scene's tragedy with impressive ease. ARDEN OF FEVERSHAM directed by Daniel Levinson, with Scott Moore, Laryssa Yanchak, Todd Campbell, Kevin Hammond, Kirsten Gundlack, Glenn Walsh and Leo Wigglesworth. Presented by Rapier-Wit and Poculi Ludique Societas at Emmanuel College, room 119 (75 Queen's Park Crescent East). Runs to November 12, Friday-Sunday at 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $10, stu/srs $5. 978-5096.